UNESCO World Heritage Site #38: Palace and Gardens of Schoenbrunn (Austria)

My Visit

I’ve only ever imagined visiting Schoenbrunn in summer. I pictured walking dreamily through the gardens, touching the flowers wistfully with the tips of my fingers, while pretending I’m the empress and I was about to commission a really awesome portrait of myself before going horseback riding and then flirting with an archduke. #goals

But I never thought about what it would be like to visit in the frigid cold of December, on a day when the sun starts setting at 4pm, when all the plants are dead and the water frozen and the fountains shut off.

I should have known to pack all my furs for the Austrian winter...
I should have known to pack all my furs for the Austrian winter…

Don’t get me wrong, it was still awesome. Plus, the Christmas market in front of the palace smelled delicious and festive. My visit was just more getting excited about pretty rooms and cinammon-sugary things than exploring the expansive grounds, and I booked it out of the gardens as quickly as I could, stopping only to snap (and Snapchat) the necessary photos for this piece.

The giant Christmas tree in the middle of the Christmas Market at Schoenbrunn
The giant Christmas tree in the middle of the Christmas Market at Schoenbrunn

The Site

Schoenbrunn Palace is one of those places you’ve probably seen in a history textbook, even if you can’t place it. Vienna was the home of the Hapsburg dynasty and de facto capital of the Holy Roman Empire and later the official capital of the  Austro-Hungarian Empire. During this time, the wealth that flowed into the city made it into its architecture. As grand as Schoenbrunn palace is, it’s often referred to as a “hunting lodge” from its original use. It was a wedding gift to the Empress Maria Theresa and was used as the Hapsburg summer home until the end of the empire during World War I.

Schoenbrunn at Dusk
Schoenbrunn at Dusk

Famously modeled after Versailles, Schoenbrunn is one of the major triumphs of Baroque architecture.

The interiors of Schoenbrunn are incredible
The interiors of Schoenbrunn are incredible

From Unesco’s Description:

The site of the Palace and Gardens of Schönbrunn is outstanding as one of the most impressive and well-preserved Baroque ensembles of its kind in Europe. Additionally, it is a potent material symbol of the power and influence of the House of Habsburg over a long period of European history, from the end of the 17th to the early 20th century.

It is impossible to separate the gardens from the palace, of which they form an organic extension: this is an excellent example of the concept of Gesamtkunstwerk, a masterly fusion of many art forms.

A small hunting lodge and later summer residence of the Habsburg family was rebuilt after total destruction during the last Turkish attack in 1683. During construction work the project was expanded into an Imperial summer residence of the court. As such it represents the ascent and the splendour of the Habsburg Empire.

The artwork is intense.
The artwork is intense.

Getting There

I was so looking forward to visiting Schoenbrunn that I rented my AirBnB in the thirteenth district. I got to the palace by walking about thirty minutes through my neighborhood. Initially, I went in the eventing to go to the Christmas market, and then again the next day for the official tour and a second stop at the Christmas market.

If you’re not in the neighborhood, you can get there easily via public transportation. Here are instructions from the official Schoenbrunn website to get there, which should be updated as transit changes.

I love selfies. Have you noticed?
I love selfies. Have you noticed?

Getting In

The ticket office is near Gate A (the gate with the two eagle columns). When I went, it was a madhouse. I purchased a ticket (about 17 euros) at one of the ticket machines. The ticket had a printed time to return to start, for me I had to wait an hour and a half before I could go in. You have choices of how much of the palace you want to see, which changes the price of the ticket. When it’s time to enter, you can get a free audio guide or download the audio guide app.

The ticket center
The ticket center

Things to Do While You’re There

It's overwhelming
It’s overwhelming
  • Climb to the top of Gloriette (under reconstruction Nov-Dec 2016)
The Gloriette at the top of the hill
The Gloriette at the top of the hill
  • Stroll by the stunning Palm House, a replica of London’s Kew Gardens
Palm House
Palm House
Walking around the Christmas Market
Walking around the Christmas Market
  • There are many other things to do at the palace and in the area. Depending on your tastes and travel style, you can easily spend an entire day or more in the area.
The gift shop is a hoot
The gift shop is a hoot

Tips

  • Technically photography is not allowed. Astute observers of my photography might notice I take pictures of everything, and many places I go do not allow photographs. However, no one at Schoenbrunn stopped anyone from actually taking photos, and by the end people even had their DSLRs out.
  • The tour length is an estimate. You can tour slower if you’d like.
  • If you get the longer tour, hold on to your ticket. You’ll need to show it again.
  • Use the restroom before starting. There are not public toilets during the tour.
Snapping pics inside the palace like it ain't no thing
Snapping pics inside the palace like it ain’t no thing

Further Reading

So pretty....
So pretty….

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UNESCO World Heritage Site #38: Palace and Gardens of Schoenbrunn (Austria)
UNESCO World Heritage Site #38: Palace and Gardens of Schoenbrunn (Austria)

10 Comments

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  5. Amy-Anne Williams

    Wow, Austria as a whole looks beautiful, but this place looks absolutely stunning. I’m currently sitting with my family and asked one member if they’ve been (of course they have), and they said they thoroughly enjoyed. Might be adding this one to my list! c:

    Amy;
    Little Moon Elephant

  6. Thanks so much for the link, Stephanie!
    Stephen recently posted…World Nomad Games in Kyrgyzstan: A Nomad OlympicsMy Profile

  7. So pretty! Even in the winter – though hopefully someday you’ll be able to get back and see the gardens. 🙂 The Christmas markets would be really fun though! Seasonal stuff is the best since it’s sort of special.
    Maggie recently posted…Box Set Visit + Mansion on O. St.My Profile

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